Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The object of my desire...

As I take a break from email, I thought I'd share some porn of a different kind. It would be a safe venture to assume that most of y'all enjoy browsing over bike porn...fancy paint with exotic shiny components that both elicit giggles of pleasure and groans of frustration from the cruel irony of the price for such exquisiteness.

Well, I go through the same twisted yearnings. Mine however, center around a little different focus, let me explain. For the last four years I've been looking for a Lagun FVT-2 vertical mill with a 10x50 table. For those that have no frickin' idea what I'm talking about, it's a large machine that allows for the cutting/shaping/milling of metal (simple description I know). Right now, I have a very nice vari-speed Bridgeport for my tubing work, but I've had an unhealthy desire to find the Lagun for fixture work, basically because I'm too lazy to clear off the Bridgeport table of all the mitering tooling and then to re-tram everything. Besides, more tools = more fun!

After years of patient labor and searching, I finally found the perfect machine at an auction to be held, looked forward to it for weeks, crammed in my attendance at the auction in leiu of sleep that day, got all giddy as my head was swirled into the auction fever...and promptly got out bid cause I'm a tight ass. Crap!

That was Saturday.

I pouted all weekend. I daydreamed about the good times we could have had together; throwing chips, the smell of cutting fluid, a nice haze of smoke filling the air, creating new and wonderful pieces that would assist me in fullfilling my customers dreams. Then suddenly, like a jilted lover, I became bitter. Why can't my desires become a reality?

Then the adult part of my psyche jumped in on the conversation..."Stop your whining and do something about it!"

So I did.

I found a new mill to sate my desires a bit further from home. She just happens to be a bit tighter, better taken care of, and a whole lot hotter than my old object of desire...check her out in all her sexy sass.
Yeah, that's right, she's a looker. Best part is, she's cheaper than that other stuck up mill that teased me out of sleep and a day's productivity in the shop. I'm gonna have to sacrifice a day next week to court her and bring her home, but with a little love, elbow grease, and a new set of DRO's, we'll be rockin it out for years to come. Can ya feel me? I knew that you could :)

Oh, and I worked on forks and bars yesterday (obligatory shop update info)



PS...Christi, this post in no way infers that a 4 thousand pound hunk of 80's steel could ever replace you as the true object of desire in my life. Buy ya know, it does have a 3 HP motor and built in coolant pump ;) Just say'n.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Retro #1 rolling...

I took a day off on Sunday and traveled to Pa to visit with some friends and to get probably my last ride of the season in. Sunday morning was a frantic pace to build the retro cruiser bike up and drive to Raystown Lake for an absolutely perfect day...65 degrees, sunny, and crisp trail conditions.

Kalten and I took turns riding the rigid to confirm that it was going to perform as expected, Kalten to see what the whole bigger wheel platform was all about. All I can say is this, Steven, you gonna like it :)

I think K had the same response...thumbs up!
The dropouts for the build are done in waterjet and are moving to the CNC mill probably on Thursday. I should be able to have the dropouts and the fork crown pieces all ready for the final push next week. Looking forward to finishing this guy up and moving on to a few Ti builds that are waiting in the wings.
Wanna put a shout out to all the cool folks who I had the opportunity to chat up in the parking lot post ride...folks from Philly and Baltimore also made the sojourn to enjoy some killer trails.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Steven's 30's inspired fork

Steven and I had discussed doing something unique for his fork on his Klunker inspired project. Looking at lots of old motorcycle pictures, where many of the early Klunkers took their styling from, I settled on a plane style fork crown.

An early 30's Cleveland motorcycle caught my eye...I really liked the crown and the detailing of the pin stripes on the blades, worthy of emulating I believe :)

The requirements for the fork are to have plenty of clearance, run discs, and be strong enough to handle the extra length of the suspension corrected geometry...a tall order for creating something that is both elegant, functional, and strong.

Here's what I've got rolling...The design will allow for a torsionally stiff fork that will track well and allow for shock absorption in the lower aspects of the non-tapered legs. Additionally, as the fork is suspension corrected, the tri plane design will aesthetically fill some of the vertical spacing between the tire and the crown. I think the fork pays tribute to the original while being attentive to the modern needs of a single track's it look Steven?

This week has been tough...88 hours in the Fire department; working shift, teaching cardiovascular physiology and electrical dysrythmias, and International Trauma Life Support. I enjoy the diversity of my multiple career roles, but honestly, it's weeks like this that I often feel like I'm letting folks down as there is just not enough time to meet everyone's needs. Thanks for everyone's patience while I muddle through.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Liquid Love and mud...

Finishing up Jay's trip report for him...

Saturday dawned cold and rainy for the build of Jay's Bigwheel, but our spirits were lifted when Christi stopped by with some hot chocolate and some pumpkin bars with cream cheese icing...yum!

Jay's build went very smoothly, it's so nice to put together Rohloff bikes because when a frame is made for them, the set up is so simple and efficient. She came out pretty spiffy...

With the jewel like build all done, there was only one thing left to do...go get it in the mud! Rounding up some bikes, kids, dogs, and gear, we headed off to show Jay part of the Mohican forest loop. Though the weather was more Artic like than he's used to, Jay was in good spirits and was ready for a bit of adventure. Some sweet trail conditions (who doesn't like slippery off camber roots and rocks?) and enough canopy left to protect us from the wind and rain left everyone with smiles by the end of our 14 mile loop. A good bit of dirt came home with all of us, especially the pups...

Kalten's buddy Eric (on the left) is showing the height of 80's cycling fashion for cold weather gear...that's what happens when you have to borrow clothes that are older than you :)
Cubby with a nice freckle pattern of mud...he stayed right at my pedal most of the ride.

Some warm clothes, good food, and a bit of socializing on the drive home and it was time for Jay to turn his car southward. A good visit with a great guy, thanks for coming up Jay.
Sunday morning I hit the paint booth again to put some color on the Single speed retro frame that will be mine and Kaltens/shop demo. I wanted to try some ideas before having to paint up Steven's frame, it's always nice to know what will and won't work, both conceptually and physically, before diving in on a customers paint. I hand masked this frame but will be going with the plotter cutter for Stevens so I can get just the contours/fine lines I want.
My name on one side...Kalten's on the other.
She'll be a very nice ride, looking forward to taking her out to Raystown this coming weekend for her maiden journey.
I've been logging some serious hours in the shop this last week so am a bit behind on correspondence, will be hitting email hard tomorrow night.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Jay reporting from Groovy Headquaters...

Hey y'all, as I finish up Jay's paint, I coaxed him into giving the daily report on the shop happenings for me. Kinda a guest spot on the blog :)

So, without further ado....heeeeere's Jay!

Hey Yall!

It's been a fun day here in Wooster at Groovy Cycles!

The story so far....

Well, I met up with Rody while he was repainting a Monster Fat Chance that I was restoring and was really impressed with his fabrication and paint skills so I asked him to build a bike for me. We spec'd out a fun Crosser type bike with a 14 speed Rohloff that I could ride on the roads to some local double track and dirt roads.

I picked up the bike at the NAHBS show in February and it quickly became my favorite bike. I road it from home, took it on vacation to some awesome rail trails in Virginia and even kept it in my car so I could ride at lunch

As Rody mentioned in the previous blog entry, I have been pushing the cross tires to the limit and have had more aspirations towards some long distance fat tire events. So through Rody's kind heart and lots of correspondence (read begging) from me, he agreed to build a new frame to handle big tires and S&S couplers so I can easily take it on some epic rides.

So yesterday after work, I got in the car in nice warm Tennessee and drove 9 hours to the beautiful (but very cold) town of Wooster.

When I got to the shop this morning, Rody was putting on the final black base coat and was ready to talk finishes. I really liked the black with translucent blue and green paint of my current ride so we decided to keep the colors but pump it up a notch with a bubbly theme but with more of the translucent blue and green.

What I learned today is that a cool paint job is not an easy task. From my naive non bike builder extraordinaire perspective the paint should be a 3 step process:

1. Paint frame black
2. Paint on blue and green accents
3. Some decals and a quick clear coat

It's really like a 28 step process that goes something like this:

1. prep frame for primer
2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7,8 prime frame, sand frame
9. paint 1st coat of black
10. paint 2nd coat of black
11. paint 3rd coat of black
12. paint frame with silver accents - I would get into more detail but have been sworn to paint secrecy on how we got the cool bubble look.
13 -14 - 15 paint top of frame with green accent color
16- 17 -18 paint bottom of frame with blue accent color
19. clear coat frame
20. bake
21. sand frame
22. apply decals
23. clear coat frame
24 - 25 -26 - 27 sand, clear coat, sand, clear coat
28. remove masking and clean couplers

I am sure I probably missed some steps but it takes a lot of work to get an awesome custom paint job on a 29er. I can't even remember how many times Rody had to clean the paint gun.

We are about to wrap up for the night to let the paint dry. First thing in the morning we plan to build it up and go for a ride in the Mohican Forest.

I know this might have been a little of a ramble but I have had a lot of fun and learned a lot about the build and paint process.

Here are some Pics -Enjoy!

4 sanded primer coats on...
First coat of background color, black...

A little metallic silver for color...

Layering on the candy coats...
Two coats of clear on, you can start to see the depth and vividness of the candies now...

Your smiling reporter du jour...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Big Projects and single parenting...ughh!

Been some long days this week. With Christi gone on vacation I've had the opportunity to experience the single parent thing...two dogs, two kids, and too much to do = not a lot of fun. The kids have been bitchin about being at the shop until 10 every night, but ya know, it is what it is. To all you folks out there that are working hard and raising kids on your own, kudos to you.

A couple of issues are pressing this week...

Carey, better known as Wangpig to his cycling friends, stopped in this week to get fitted up for his Groovy frame that he won as the lucky drawing winner for the final Groovy series race. Each time a participant races in one of my sponsored races, he gets an entry into the drawing. Ironically, it was the additional entry given to those who came out for the trail day at Vulture's Knob that was the winning ticket...see, good things come to those who give back to their local trails :)

While I was hanging with Cary and Keith (who came along to check out the process and the shop), I was also stripping a few frames. In the line for loosing their tired colors were Doug's Fat, DL's Fat, and Jarod's Fat...sensing a trend?

This kind of stripping is a messy business and does not pay near as well as what my lady friends on stage take in ;)
The big project this week was for Jay Remko. I built a Bigwheel cross frame for Jay earlier in the year which went to the show in Indy. Jay lives in the mountainous south and wanted a dirt road vehicle to cruise the back roads of his area. He was having so much fun he wanted it to take the place of his full time mountain bike... the only problem, the cross stays would not allow a big enough tire for the rocky terrain. With aspirations of doing the Great Divide race and my desire to have a fully satisfied customer, we decided to build him another frame after hours (who needs sleep anyway, right?). This one soon grew...couplers, custom rack, etc... I had to change up the design a bit to accommodate the couplers and allow for better travel efficiency, but I'm sure he'll be pleased with the final outcome.
Jay is coming into town on Friday to build it up, so I had to hustle to get it done in time...hope I make it.
Couplers arrived just in time...
Flashing forward a lot, I'm putting the final touches on the frame...custom rack attachment points. the seat stay ones are hidden on the inside of the stay and I drilled and tapped the stainless dropouts to keep a clean look for when the rack is not in use.

Into the blast cabinet it goes to get ready for paint... a lot easier to fit when the frame is separated.
Ready to be unmasked, cleaned, re-masked and shot...
I hated to leave the pups all locked up at home while no one has been there, so Cubby and Frankie have been tolerable shop pups this week...

As I've been waiting on Steven's dropouts to land from the CNC shop, I finished up one of the retro frames that will be a shop demo/my bike/Kalten's race bike next year. This one just got straight stays and sliders.
Fitting the chainstays...

Cutting up the seat stays...
and through the magic of the blog and a few days work, the bike is together and ready for the fiddley bits to be brazed in; H2O bosses, disc cable guides, etc...

Gonna be painting today, so if y'all call, I may not be able to answer straight away.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Last call for Team applications...

Hey guys and gals,

Just a quick note tonight to let y'all know that if you are interested in joining the Groovy race family I need to have your email of interest by the end of the week. We've had a great response to our announcement to expand our sponsorship and brand presence for the 2010 season and want to insure that everyone who would like an opportunity, does.
So, if you are a person who thrives on fun, yearns for some friendly mountain bike competition, and would enjoy a little advocacy and trail building, drop me a line. Looking for friendly folks, not necessarily the fastest, though it doesn't hurt :), to fly the colors and be a leader for the growth of our sport.

Christi and I will firm up our roster on Sunday and extend invitations to those selected next week.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekend update...forks, racing, and framework

Hey Y'all,

Sorry to be a bit lax on the posting, but I've been cramming every hour full since last's what's been shaking.

Thursday I built another 4 box crown forks and two special order bars to round out the fabrication for the week prior to hitting the paint booth. I was starting to get a bit cross eyed looking at the weld arc all day long.

Friday I was all set to pick up the dropouts from the CNC house when I got a disturbing email..."unfortunately, we cannot produce the part, the guys on the floor feel it is too complex to program". WTF???? That took me by surprise, as all the DXF, IGES, and pdf files to show the prints were in hand, heck, I've made dropouts like this on my manual mill. Wish they would have told me a week and a half ago when they said "No problem"...argh! That sent me into a tailspin for a minute til I called up Brian Lenz at Lenz machine, a great little family shop just 5 minutes down the road from me. Brian has two inhouse water jets, three CNC machining centers, and a host of beautifully maintained equipment. A few hours looking over the info with Brian and he was off to program the cut paths. Dropouts will be here this week for sure, thanks Brian!

Saturday was spent in the shop working on stripping some restos to prepare for paint in the next week or so. Not flashy or fun, but necessary.

Sunday was the long anticipated Mohican Forest race. The day dawned cold but clear, and soon the sun rose to bring the thermometer up to a tasty 55 degrees. With one of the largest turnouts I've seen for an OMBC race, this event was really a celebration of the years of advocacy, trail work, and promotion that the Mohican/Malabar club and Ryan have worked at.

The 26 mile course was fast and a bit loose due to the leaves and pine needles that fall has brought down. Straight out of the gate, Dave Walker and Steve Twining were setting a firey pace that would not wane until the finish line. Jeff, the soul Groovy rider there this day (Kalten was home sick in bed), had the ride of the day, keeping just seconds behind the front duo on his single speed. Despite his best efforts, Jeff ended up just a minute out from the two leaders at the end of the day...if I could just have convinced him to throw some gears on, who knows how the top three would have mixed it up. In an almost photo finish, Steve bested Dave at the line by mere inches...what a fun day!

Dave and Steve exiting the woods to cross the river before heading up the LONG single track climb...
Mile 24.5...Jeff returning to the ground after sailing in the air on the descent...
Today, I made the best of my time, throwing some powder on a fork and two bars and doing some fabrication. I had hoped to be working on Steven's frame, but until his dropouts make it here, I moved on to it's twin; a retro inspired frame with a Rohloff drive using Paragon sliders.
With the front end all welded up, I began fitting and mitering the rear pieces. Here I've just completed slotting the chainstay with a dual slitting saw and am removing the remaining uncut material left from the custom spacer.

After a couple clean up strokes with a file, checking for fit...
I mitered up the chainstays to a tight tolerance then moved on to the seat stays. Once slotted, I began mitering the SS/ST joint...
All fit up as the sun was setting in the window, the lights are ready to come on to keep working into the night...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Scott's Ho fork coming together...

As I wait for CNC metal products to churn out Steve's dropouts, I worked on getting Scott's box crown fork done. Yesterday I cut up some crown sections to do a few for Scott, one for a Wicked, one for a custom urban bike that Warwick at Thylacine Cycles is designing, and one extra for the parts drawer. I prepped and welded up two of the steerers/crowns and got to work on finishing up Scotts, a box crown fork that will have both discs and canti's with removable posts.
Setting up the fork fixture...since this fixture is so old, I did not make it to have indexed dropout slots, so I use a parallel and rotate the dropouts forward so that they are both in contact with it's face, insuring they are in phase. I suppose sometime I need to mill a new axle post, but it always comes down to having the time :)

The legs are mitered in the mill at an angle to match the dropouts and then I turn the legs down to length in the lathe...a nice way to insure that my end stays nice and true while taking down the length. All nice and tight...

I tack the fork all the way around then take it out of the fixture and use a dedicated wheel that I know is dished and true to check the fork's alignment...any lateral differentials need to be addressed now while the parts can still be separated and corrected. It looks super duper!

Back into the fixture for welding and wha-la, here we go...stitched up nice and tidy.

Next I milled down the disc tab to fit the fork's leg...
Checking the fit in the setting sunlight, no gaps makes for a strong joint...
The tab is tacked in 6 places then I run the beads...trying to get an entire side of the tab in one pass is tough as your torch angle needs to be constantly adjusted while continuing to move forward and adding filler material, keeping the correct heat distribution between the .035" tube wall and the .25" disc tab.
One more part to go...I brought the canti bosses along in the VW bus.
With the fork all together, it's time to cut the crown race to fit the ID of the King race. I use the lathe, hitting it with the tool post first then using a finish file to soften the edges.

A nice white paint job and this one is ready to go to it's new home.

Happy in Berlin...

I enjoy seeing pics from customers who are enjoying their new toys.

Claudia sent me these pics of her classic Buck Shaver now adorned with some black Luv handles...
Thanks Claudia..enjoy!
I've got to get to Germany someday, lot's of good folks and some super riding from the pics I've seen.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

End of a long haul...

This last few weeks has been a heck of a stretch, with lots of hours at the Fire Department, teaching a Paramedic refresher, and working away in the shop. I finally hit my last day being a slave to three disciplines this morning...gonna have two good weeks in the shop and at home thanks to the fact that Christi is traveling for a week for a girls only trip. I'll be in the shop during the day and running the kids in the evenings.

I really didn't have the gumption to do much today but catch up on some sleep, but I suppressed that need for a bit longer and hit the door to the shop. So here's what happened today...

I got all the files necessary to drive the CAM systems off to CNC Metal Products so they could get started on the dropouts for Steven's bike. It's amazing just how long everything takes, even with the modern "conveniences" of computers.

I also got caught up on some lingering email...if y'all are waiting to hear back from me, you should have a response. If you do not, hit me up again, please.

With the office duties cleaned up a bit, I began working on some box crowns for a number of forks to be built. I began by cutting up the rough stock in the cold saw then got it set up in the mill for a little angled mitering for the legs...

then the crown...
What helps me push past the sleepy eyes? Well, Swedish Fish of course :) Gotta keep them on the bench for that quick sugar hit.
I'll finish up the fabrication on the forks tomorrow.
Looking at the calendar, I realized that it had been since August that I last rode...that's horrible. So I took a few hours and went for a ride...I felt fat and slow, kinda like the first ride after a winter hibernation. The lazy legs went away after a bit and I really enjoyed the quiet of the trail with the pups running along behind. Nice to get out.
When I got back to the shop after the manditory puppy baths (they rolled in some dead animal and it's pooh...yuk!) I found that I had some cool pics in my inbox.
Michael sent me some shots of "Kermit", the 650b I had for sale last week. Here she is all kitted up with a sexy new 1x9 set up and Fox fork on the front.
First ride report was stellar..."carves up the trails and fits perfect!" ... that's nice to hear.

I'm sure it will have a good home.
I'll be back at it tomorrow, hope to see y'all stop by.